March 12, 2008
Meeting With Gerogian Parliament Member, Kahka Shengelia, PhD
Today we had the pleasure of meeting with Kahka Shengelia, a member of the Georgian Parliament, like our US Congress, a fascinating man who went to college in the US, and speaks 7 languages. Mr. Shengelia talked candidly about the tensions between Russia and Georgia, which were much worse than I knew. He told us, during the Communits years, you could only speak Russian, by law, in all public buildings. But now as an independent country, Georgians have their freedoms back.
He also told us about Georgia's fast growing economy, which has been stimulated by opening up the economy to foreign investment and lowering taxes. Georgia was the world's #1 economic reformer in 2007. His apartment which cost $70,000 three years ago in Tbilisi now is worth 1/2 a million dollars. Georgia received $10 billion dollars in foreign investment in 2007, and their GDP is growing 10% a year.
He also talked about how all of the schools in Georgia will have computers with access to the internet this year. Still keep in mind, Georgia has a much smaller economy than ours, and it is difficult to deal with scarcity. GDP per capita is $4000 in Georgia, where in the US it is about $46,000. Overall, he was a very generous to take time out of his busy life to tell stories about Georgia to us.